Tue Feb 27 2024
Founders & Tech Leaders

How Startups are Winning with AI in Operations

Maryam Khurram
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At the heart of the startup ecosystem, a silent revolution is underway, fundamentally altering the operational landscape: the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This is not the story of AI as a buzzword or a distant promise of future advancements. Instead, it's a tale of how AI is currently reshaping startups from the ground up, offering tangible, impactful changes in the way these nimble ventures operate.

In this exploration, we dive into the real-world scenarios where AI isn't just an add-on but the very backbone of startup operations. Picture a small team, armed not just with innovative ideas but also AI tools that empower them to punch above their weight.

These tools are dissecting vast datasets to extract actionable insights, automating complex processes that once required entire departments, and even engaging with customers in a more personalized, efficient manner.

The narrative shifts from the generic promises of efficiency and automation to specific instances where AI has proven to be a game-changer.

What makes AI a unique ally for startups is its scalability and adaptability. Startups, unburdened by the hefty legacy systems of larger corporations, are uniquely positioned to implement AI solutions more quickly and effectively. This agility allows them to experiment, innovate, and pivot in ways that were previously unimaginable.

This introduction serves as a doorway into a world where AI is not just a theoretical advantage but a practical tool, wielded by startups to disrupt industries, redefine customer experiences, and challenge the status quo.

Here, AI is more than technology; it's a strategic partner for startups, a key player in their journey towards innovation and success.

Ten Businesses Implementing Artificial Intelligence

  • Amazon

Amazon is a major player in various sectors, including e-commerce, cloud services, logistics, voice technology, and autonomous driving. It's no surprise, then, that Amazon extensively employs AI in numerous areas. The company applies AI to interpret images and videos, enhancing product suggestions.

Additionally, AI is integral in streamlining Amazon's supply chain by predicting demand, managing inventory, and efficiently processing orders. The company is also exploring the use of AI-driven autonomous robots in its warehouses.

Read more on how Amazon became AI-obsessed.

  • Meta Platforms

Meta Platforms, a leader in social media with ownership of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has long capitalized on AI. The company uses AI to power recommendation algorithms, influencing the accounts and stories suggested on Facebook and Instagram. AI also assists in identifying inappropriate content, such as nudity or hate speech.

Moreover, Meta is expanding AI applications into chatbots, virtual assistants, and real-time language translation.

  • Tesla

Tesla, a front-runner in electric vehicles, is heavily invested in AI, particularly for achieving fully autonomous driving. AI is central to Tesla's self-driving technology, processing real-time visual data from car-mounted cameras to create a 3D representation of the road, identifying obstacles, and making navigational decisions.

Tesla also leverages AI in data analytics and is developing a multi-functional, bi-pedal, autonomous humanoid robot.

  • Upstart

Since its 2020 launch, Upstart has been recognized for its AI-driven approach in the financial sector. The company disrupts traditional credit scoring with an AI model that assesses borrowers using 1,600 data points across 15 billion cells of data, enhancing risk and creditworthiness evaluations. Upstart's AI-centric model aims to broaden loan accessibility and democratize financial systems.

  • Netflix

Netflix employs AI algorithms to personalize viewing recommendations based on user behavior and preferences aligned with similar users. The streaming giant also utilizes AI to select promotional images for titles and determine optimal filming locations for its productions.

  • Alphabet

Alphabet, under CEO Sundar Pichai, transitioned to an AI-first approach seven years ago. This tech giant integrates AI in various ways. Like its counterparts, Alphabet employs AI-based recommendation algorithms for search result optimization and utilizes AI to enhance the efficacy of its advertising products through improved targeting.

AI is also a key component in Google Cloud, offering machine learning services and enhancing cybersecurity. Additionally, Alphabet is applying AI in its autonomous vehicle division, Waymo, and in developing new products like Bard AI.

  • JPMorgan Chase

In the financial sector, institutions like JPMorgan Chase are also embracing AI. The bank uses AI for fraud detection and customer service enhancement. Innovatively, it has employed a ChatGPT-like AI to analyze 25 years of Federal Reserve speeches, seeking trading insights for a competitive edge. Furthermore, JPMorgan Chase leverages AI in algorithmic trading, a common practice in financial services.

  • Boeing

Manufacturing giants such as Boeing are incorporating AI in multiple aspects. Boeing recently partnered with Shield AI to work on autonomous capabilities, including an AI pilot capable of flying various aircraft and enabling autonomous operation of drones and aircraft.

Additionally, Boeing is exploring AI applications in air traffic management systems, utilizing technologies like computer vision and speech recognition. The company is also experimenting with AI for inspecting aircraft post-landing to identify any damages.

  • Johnson & Johnson

In the healthcare industry, companies like Johnson & Johnson are utilizing AI diversely. For example, their skincare brand Neutrogena has an app that analyzes facial changes to optimize beauty routines, using a skin scanner attached to a smartphone camera. Moreover, Johnson & Johnson is implementing AI in drug discovery, particularly in analyzing microscopic compound images to guide research for other diseases.

  • ExxonMobil

Energy corporations, such as ExxonMobil, are leveraging AI to enhance efficiency and outcomes. ExxonMobil has long used machine learning algorithms for preventing equipment failures, boosting production, and automating tasks.

This is crucial in the energy sector, where equipment failures can lead to significant disruptions, especially in unmanned platforms. The company also employs AI for data management and to prevent data siloing, anticipating greater adoption of machine learning tools in the future.

  • Apple

Apple, a global leader in technology, offers consumer electronics like iPhones and Apple Watches, along with computer software and online services. The company integrates artificial intelligence and machine learning into its products.

For instance, AI powers the FaceID feature on iPhones and assists Siri, the smart assistant in AirPods, Apple Watch, and HomePod smart speakers. Additionally, Apple's AI capabilities are employed in its service offerings, recommending songs on Apple Music, assisting with photo searches in iCloud, and aiding navigation via Apple Maps.

  • Baidu

Baidu, often regarded as China's Google, incorporates artificial intelligence extensively. One of its innovations is Deep Voice, a technology that can clone a voice with just 3.7 seconds of audio using AI and deep learning. This technology is also used in a tool that reads books in the author’s voice, requiring no traditional recording methods.

  • Facebook

Facebook utilizes AI and deep learning to structure its massive amounts of unstructured data. Its DeepText engine is capable of understanding and interpreting the sentiments and content of posts in various languages in real-time.

Another AI innovation, DeepFace, enables automatic identification of individuals in photos. This facial recognition technology surpasses human abilities. Furthermore, Facebook employs AI to detect and remove revenge porn images automatically.

  • IBM

IBM has been a pioneer in artificial intelligence for decades. Over 20 years ago, its Deep Blue computer made history by defeating a human world chess champion. Following this, IBM continued with AI milestones, including its Watson computer winning on the game show Jeopardy. IBM's recent AI achievement is Project Debater, a cognitive computing engine that competes with professional debaters by generating human-like arguments.

  • JD

JD.com, the Chinese counterpart to Amazon, is driven by founder Richard Liu's vision of complete automation. The company's warehouse operations are already fully automated, and it has been delivering packages via drones for four years. JD.com is advancing through a combination of artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics, positioning itself at the forefront of the 4th industrial revolution in retail.

  • Microsoft

Artificial intelligence is central to Microsoft's vision, underlining its commitment to integrating smart technology across its offerings. This includes incorporating intelligent features in products and services like Cortana, Skype, Bing, and Office 365. Microsoft is also a leading provider of AI as a Service (AIaaS).

  • Tencent

Tencent, a major Chinese social media enterprise, is heavily invested in artificial intelligence, aiming to become "the most respected internet enterprise." With over 1 billion users on its WeChat app, Tencent's AI extends to gaming, digital assistants, mobile payments, cloud storage, live streaming, sports, education, movies, and self-driving cars.

Operating under the motto “AI in all,” Tencent processes and utilizes vast amounts of customer data for strategic advancements.

The AI Edge in Modern Operations - A Dialogue

In our current business environment, where change is constant, Artificial Intelligence has emerged as a pivotal force, uniquely redefining the nuances of business process management and strategy.

Remember the 1990s and the buzz around business process reengineering? Well, it's making a comeback, but this time AI is leading the charge. To get a clearer picture of this exciting trend, we had a chat with Mustafa Baris Karaman, our VP of Marketing.

Mustafa, known for his practical insights and deep understanding of AI's impact in the business realm, shared his thoughts on how AI is not just changing the game, but rewriting the rules in the world of business operations.

Q1: The 90s saw a surge in business process reengineering. How does this compare to the current landscape, particularly with AI's emergence?

Mustafa: The 90s were indeed a transformative era with the adoption of technologies like ERP systems. However, the impact was often less revolutionary than anticipated. For instance, ERP implementations resulted in rigid, hard-to-change processes. Today, AI is reinvigorating this concept, offering more flexibility and adaptability. It's not just a tool for incremental change but a catalyst for comprehensive process redesign, aligning closely with the original vision of reengineering.

Q2: How does AI redefine the concept of reengineering in today's context?

Mustafa: AI is fundamentally different from the transactional technologies of the 90s. It's not just about data transfer; it's about enhancing decision-making. AI applications range from predictive analytics in production planning to advanced capabilities in image recognition and autonomous operations. What makes AI unique is its status as a general-purpose technology, capable of dramatic improvements across various domains.

Q3: Could you give us some concrete examples of AI's impact in various industries?

Mustafa: Absolutely. In banking, AI is transforming areas like wealth management, offering personalized, data-driven advice. Insurance companies are using AI for more efficient client onboarding and automated claims processing, employing deep learning for image analysis in damage assessments. Even in healthcare, we see AI-powered telemedicine beginning to take root, although clinical adoption varies by region.

Q4: With AI reshaping operations, what should companies prioritize?

Mustafa: Companies need to revisit their entire process landscape with an AI lens. It's about identifying where AI can play a pivotal role in enhancing operational decisions. The key is to see AI not just as a tool for task optimization but as a driver for reevaluating entire business processes.

Q5: Can you share an example of this transformation in a specific sector?

Mustafa: One notable example is DBS Bank in Singapore. They faced challenges with high false positives in transaction surveillance. By integrating AI, they significantly enhanced their fraud detection process, combining machine learning with workflow platforms and network analytics. This led to a substantial increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of their surveillance operations.

Q6: How about industries with heavy physical operations, like energy or chemicals?

Mustafa: In these sectors, AI is revolutionizing traditional roles. At Shell, for example, AI, drones, and robots are now used for inspections, which were previously manual, time-consuming tasks. This shift has not only improved efficiency but also allowed human workers to focus on more strategic, value-added activities. It's a profound shift from physical to digital workflows, requiring a rethinking of roles and responsibilities.

Q7: Who should lead these AI-driven changes in processes?

Mustafa: Traditionally, this was the realm of operations managers. However, in an AI-driven environment, it's more effective to have a cross-functional leadership approach. Product managers, who understand both the technical and business aspects, are increasingly vital. They ensure that AI initiatives are not just technically successful but also aligned with broader business objectives. Design thinking also plays a crucial role in this transition, helping to reimagine processes from the ground up.

Q8: As AI continues to evolve, what's the future outlook for business processes?

Mustafa: AI is fast becoming as ubiquitous as ERP systems once were. The more companies engage with AI for process reengineering, the more they uncover new opportunities for innovation and improvement. This ongoing evolution is crucial, especially for companies transitioning towards more sustainable and efficient operational models.

As we reflect on the profound impact of Artificial Intelligence in reshaping business processes, it's clear that we're standing at the threshold of a new era in operational strategy. This evolution speaks to the potential of AI not just as a tool for efficiency, but as a catalyst for reimagining the fundamentals of how businesses function and succeed.

In embracing AI, companies are not merely adapting to change – they are actively crafting a future where innovation, agility, and strategic foresight are the cornerstones of success. The journey ahead is as challenging as it is exciting, beckoning a paradigm shift in the very blueprint of business operations.

How Talently.ai is Transforming Recruitment with AI

Traditional recruitment methods are time-consuming, prone to bias, and often fail to identify the best-fit candidates for roles. As our company recognized the challenges inherent in the hiring process, we saw an opportunity to harness the power of AI to revolutionize recruitment.

With AI's ability to analyze vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, we aimed to create a solution that would streamline hiring, improve candidate selection, and drive organizational success.

Introducing Talently.ai:

Talently.ai is not just another recruitment platform; it's a game-changer in the talent acquisition space. Powered by cutting-edge AI algorithms, Talently.ai offers a comprehensive suite of features designed to optimize every stage of the recruitment process.

From sourcing and screening candidates to assessing skills and predicting job fit, Talently.ai leverages AI to deliver actionable insights and drive informed hiring decisions.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Advanced Candidate Sourcing: Talently.ai utilizes AI-powered algorithms to scour vast talent pools and identify candidates who best match job requirements, saving recruiters time and effort.
  • Intelligent Candidate Screening: With Talently.ai's intelligent screening capabilities, recruiters can quickly evaluate candidate profiles based on predefined criteria, reducing bias and ensuring fairness in the selection process.
  • Skill Assessment and Predictive Analytics: Talently.ai goes beyond traditional resume screening by assessing candidates' skills and predicting job fit based on data-driven insights. This enables recruiters to make informed decisions and identify candidates with the highest potential for success.

The Imperative of International AI Regulation

The global societal impact of artificial intelligence (AI) is profound, making it increasingly critical for world leaders to collaborate on its regulation.

Numerous calls for such cooperation have been made, including the Bletchley Declaration at a recent summit in the UK and the G7's agreement on 11 AI principles and a code of conduct. However, these initiatives tend to state what is already known. The central issue is not the necessity for international AI cooperation, but rather the methods by which it can be effectively implemented.

The establishment of an intergovernmental body seems the most apparent solution to ensure AI's benefits are maximized while managing its considerable risks through effective controls.

Proposals include forming a World Technology Organisation or an entity akin to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), highlighting the comparable risks between AI and nuclear weapons.

Alternatively, some suggest an institutional structure inspired by the likes of Cern, the Human Genome Project, or the International Space Station (ISS).

Nonetheless, the creation of a dedicated international organization for AI or technology presents three major challenges.

One significant obstacle is the dual-use nature of AI, which has both peaceful and military applications. This duality makes it improbable that major powers would unite to establish a global institution with real authority to regulate AI's development and use.

The ongoing 'chip war' between the U.S. and China exemplifies the intense geopolitical rivalry surrounding AI technology. This competition among leading nations poses substantial barriers to international cooperation on AI.

Moreover, existing post-World War II international institutions are already hindered by inter-state tensions. For instance, the UN Security Council is often immobilized on major international controversies. The World Trade Organisation's Appellate Body, once a successful mechanism for resolving trade disputes, is now ineffective, partially due to the U.S.'s refusal to approve judicial appointments. Even before its current issues, I believed it faced significant structural limitations.

The major global financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are currently grappling with significant governance challenges. There has been a recent push by G20 leaders for these institutions to undergo reforms and have more distinct roles.

Given the turmoil existing international institutions are experiencing, the prospect of establishing a separate international entity specifically for AI regulation appears remote.

A key question arises: what would an AI-focused organization actually accomplish? If established, would this body aim to enhance scientific collaboration among various research groups or coordinate AI regulations internationally?

It's uncertain whether such an organization would establish a monitoring system to ensure the development of AI that is human-centric, trustworthy, and responsible. The operational logistics and enforcement methods of such a system raise further questions. Additionally, would this entity assist developing and least developed countries in maximizing AI's potential?

Divergent approaches to AI, driven by sovereignty, national security, and perceived national interests, complicate reaching a consensus on the organization's functions. We already observe varying approaches to AI regulation; for example, the EU's AI act bans social scoring and real-time facial recognition, contrasting with the practices of authoritarian states.

It's important not to be misled by generalized statements from the international community suggesting the emergence of international AI law. While there is broad agreement on the need to safeguard society from AI risks and ensure its deployment doesn't violate human rights and remains safe, translating these principles into specific international legal commitments is a substantial hurdle.

Risk assessments on AI tools may vary depending on the assessor, and opinions on prioritizing individual rights versus security interests can differ among countries, as can definitions of ethical AI.

The role of private actors presents another major challenge in establishing an international AI oversight body. The significant involvement of the private sector in AI development and deployment suggests that a joint public-private governance model might be the only feasible approach. However, integrating private companies into a governance structure traditionally dominated by nation-states could be problematic and must be addressed.

International cooperation on AI does exist to some degree. Organizations like the OECD, UNESCO, and the International Organization for Standardization have developed recommendations or standards within their areas of expertise. Additionally, entities such as the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organization are beginning to assess AI's impact within their mandates. The UN has established a High-Level Advisory Body on AI for analysis and recommendations on international governance, but it's too early to determine if this fragmented approach will yield a cohesive response.

Until conditions are conducive for creating a standalone AI-focused international organization, it's likely that powerful entities like the US, home to many tech companies, and the EU with its AI Act, will significantly influence global AI regulation and governance.

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